September 9, 2012 Subject:
Nice little short
Not very realistic, but nevertheless quite pleasant and enjoyable silent film.
I know this seems strange, but wow, watching a film made 100 years ago...it just amazes me that we can do this.
Reviewer:Wilford B. Wolf -
July 24, 2005 Subject:
Extraordinary pioneering filmmaker
This short film deals with "consumption," which is better known as tuberculosis these days, a rather common afflcition in the early part of the 20th century. This is primarily a domestic drama done in only 11 minutes. That is extraordinary is not only the fact that the director is a woman, but that in terms of staging and acting, this plays out more like a film that is 10 or 20 years later.
The film opens with a doctor finding a treatment for tuberculosis. Cut to a domestic scene, where Winifred comes down with a cough. A doctor soon comes to tell her family that she'll be dead by "the time the last leaf falls." Later, her little sister Trixie sneaks out of bed to tie leaves to the trees so her sister won't die. The doctor, who just happened to be walking by, sees Trixie and asks why she is hanging leaves. The doctor comes in and cures Winifred.
While the plot is rather light and not entirely convincing, what is more interesting is how the film is presented. As per this era of film, time move linearly and is shot from a single fixed point in each scene. We do have some hints of parallel time during the scene when Trixie is outside and her governess and mother search for her.
However, in terms of acting, it is remarkably restrained. There is not the overbroad gestures one typically finds in silent films. Most of the staging follows theater conventions, with most characters doing no more than 3/4 closed to the camera. Yet, for this tale, this sort of staging serves it well. This more restrained mode of acting would not become the norm until the advent of sound and the increased use of the close-up.
Mace Greenleaf: Dr. Earl Headley
Magda Foy: Trixie
Marion Swayne: Winifred
Blanche Cornwall: their mother
Darwin Karr: their father